Ideas of March 2012

That time again.  I wrote something last year, covering the ideas of march.  Last year, bloggers came out and shared their ideas, and I imagine this year will be just as fun.  So, once again, I’d like to share my thoughts on blogs.  This year, I’d like to take on the point of view of a reader as opposed to a writer of blogs.  After all, far more people consume blogs then actually write them.

Having trouble keeping up? Share!

It’s hard.  Even with a feed reader, it’s hard to keep up with everything that is going on.  In the PHP world, I can head on over to good-ole PHPDeveloper to find out what is going on in the PHP world, but these days, it’s more than just PHP.  I can of course subscribe to my favorite blogs, but as I said, there is far more out there to read than I have time to enjoy.  Twitter helps some, as I can follow a link from twitter from someone I followed, but even if they post something, I might miss it in the ever moving Twitter stream.

What really helps is when people share.  Between Reddit, HackerNews, people retweeting things they’ve found, DZone, and, of course, PHPDeveloper, there are numerous ways to share.  If you are a reader, and you’ve read something, share it!  A tweet about an article might only bring in a few people, but those are people that might not otherwise have found the article.  Share the article!  Help curate, and get it out there.

That’s something I’m trying to commit to.  And while sharing and those ‘social media’ buttons on articles might seem annoying, they actually serve a purpose to remind us how we get our information.  Just because someone has tweeted an article doesn’t mean his followers will see it.  Too often I find myself following a retweet because I missed the original.

And don’t be afraid to submit to sites like Reddit or HackerNews.  Both are wonderful resources.

Your voice matters

Even if it’s a simple thank you.  You don’t need to spend much time, but every little bit helps.  If you read something, and enjoy it, let the author know.  Nothing makes us happier than when someone takes the time to actually respond.  Not everyone will comment, but getting just one comment usually spawns a few others.

If you are nervous about what you have to say, you can also always send an email.  I think it’s fair to say that unless they say otherwise, bloggers have a standing invitation to contact them.  We’re geeks just like you, and we’re writing about stuff you’re clearly interested in as well, so we already have at least one thing in common.

Read, enjoy

Most of all, and most important, is to read the articles.  Spend time and enjoy them.  All too often we get sucked into the 140-characters or less, StackOverflow-style short answers that let us get in and get out.  I find I enjoy blogs so much more when I just allow myself to read and focus.  I don’t just skim the headlines looking for the answer to a solution.  I sit back with a cup of coffee, and spend a little bit of time reading.  I don’t rush through.  I don’t start an internal debate with what’s being said.  I just read.  I just enjoy.

Too often we allow ourselves to become masters of multitasking.  And there are times this is good.  But we need to learn to shut this off.  Blogs give us this chance.  If it’s worth reading, it’s worth focusing on.

To Bloggers

This is a message to bloggers.  Don’t wait for the perfect article.  Just write.  Share stories of projects.  You don’t need to provide a tutorial or novel solution every time you write.  Simply recounting what you did, even if everything you did is what is normally done, can be just as revealing, just as interesting.  Just write.  Share your stories.  People want to read, and not every article need contain examples of code.

Share your mistakes, share your accomplishments.

I should take my own advice.  Recently we launched Locals at myYearbook.  The web version was my baby.  It’s an awesome product, and combined with the mobile version, makes for something an interesting story on the challenges we faced and how it works.  I haven’t written anything on it because, frankly, I worked on it so much that I can’t see the forest for the trees.  It’s completed, and remembering all the interesting details would take time.  And, wrongly, I feel that to do it justice, I would need to go over everything.

Ideas of March

Finally, here are some ideas I am working on for future articles.

  • Basics of tmux, getting strated with the terminal multiplexer
  • vim maps based on file types
  • An approach for a DIC for PHP 5.4
  • And just for kicks, writing a PHP app without conditions or loops (not recommended for sanity!)

 

Ideas of March

Ideas of march is a nice idea, especially when you consider the recent moves by Twitter.  Controlling your own data on your website gives you more freedom.  Services like Identi.ca should help alleviate the pain of moving from Twitter, but your own blog is still your own place.

I used to write a lot more than I do now.  I thought I had interesting things to say back then.  I was a bit more naive, and a bit less intelligent, and much less wise.  Today I suffer an inverse problem: fearing I know to little.  ConFoo helped to solve that problem.  I came away realising I know more than I give myself credit for.  I also discovered that I could hold meaningful conversations with other hackers.    The problem was, I’ve been sheltering myself from the local developer community for so long, for one reason or another, and I’ve lost that sense of connection with other like minded developers in a non-work setting.

Ideas of march and ConFoo make me realise that the most important thing for a developer is community, and losing that will cause you to lose your way.  The most fun and successful I’ve been has always been a result of community efforts.  It’s realising and understanding this that makes me realise more than ever that I need to get out and meet the local community, be involved more online, and contribute back what knowledge I have.

So, here’s my pledge, for the ideas of march, to publish more, comment more, and contribute back to the community as a whole.